Germany, India linked by ‘very close ties’: Merkel

New Delhi: German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday said her country and India are linked by very close ties. The leader made the remarks after being accorded a ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhawan in the national capital on Friday.

Merkel was received by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on her arrival at Rashtrapati Bhawan.

“I am delighted to be in India for the intergovernmental consultations. I want to thank Prime Minister Narendra for the warm and gracious welcome we have received here. It is my fourth visit to India and I am looking forward to this interesting program,” said Merkel after Prime Minister Modi received her.

“Germany and India are linked by very close ties. We have great respect for this vast country and its diversity,” she added.

Merkel will hold talks with Modi on various bilateral issues and nearly 20 agreements are expected to be signed between the two countries. The main topics on the agenda include skill development, climate, artificial intelligence, sustainable development, security & economy, sources told ANI. Talks on a possible free trade agreement with the European Union may also be discussed, sources added.

Merkel arrived in New Delhi on Thursday to participate in the fifth India-Germany Inter-Governmental Consultations (IGC). She was received by Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in the national capital.

During their meeting, Modi and Merkel will exchange views on regional and global matters of mutual interest. Both leaders will have a separate engagement with CEOs and business leaders of both countries, the MEA had said in a statement.

The German Chancellor is also expected to meet President Ram Nath Kovind during the visit. She will also visit Gandhi Smriti.

Merkel will interact with Indian women leaders and address a business forum.

On Saturday, she will pay a visit to Continental Automotive Components India Pvt Ltd facility in IMT Manesar in Gurgaon. She will also visit a metro station in the Dwarka area.

India and Germany have established a strategic partnership that is characterized by a high degree of trust and mutual understanding. The two leaders have regularly interacted on the sidelines of multilateral meetings. Germany is also a leading trade and investment partner in India.

In September, Merkel had met Modi on the sidelines of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The two leaders held a wide-ranging dialogue on several issues. In April last year, Modi made a brief stopover in Berlin and met Merkel after his visit to Sweden and Britain.